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I actually emailed her way back in 2011, when I was just starting my photography business. She graciously answered every question I sent as a complete stranger, thousands of miles away. Over the last decade we’ve been quiet cheerleaders for one another, but I will never, ever forget the way she showed up for me when I dropped into her inbox, a mere admirer of her photography.
I watched Anjuli Paschall’s book trailer more than five times as I prepared for this conversation, the first was just to learn more about her book. The next several views? Well, I wanted to hear her calming voice and truly understand the deeper meaning of the title, “Stay”.
She’s a mother of five children, an author, a speaker, a retired photographer, and so much more. I want to get deep with Anjuli today, because she is so skilled at helping people unpack their vulnerabilities and understand the deeper places in their hearts. In this conversation we’ll chat about book writing and self-car and honoring her own time and space as a mother. I can’t wait for you to meet this woman.
The Early Days
Her story starts 10 years ago as a photographer. Anjuli was traveling the world with her photography business, and her work was published in magazines and blogs. It was through those publications that she discovered her own love of blogging.
“I started writing and I couldn’t stop,” Anjuli shared. “Have you ever had an idea and you were just up all night chasing after it? That’s what writing was for me at the time.” After about six months of writing, Anjuli stepped back and looked at her work and said, “I think I just wrote a book.” But she didn’t share it with anyone at the time. She didn’t identify herself as a writer.
But then Anjuli was in Mexico shooting a wedding, 29-weeks pregnant with her fourth baby when she went into early labor. It was a wake up call knowing that she and her baby could’ve died in that situation. Anjuli realized that she was so focused on producing that she lost sight of who she was becoming. It propelled her into a deep dive of her soul.
“I quit. I quit photography and I put my manuscript on a shelf,” she continued. In the last ten years, Anjuli uncovered the pieces of herself she was only beginning to know, and confronted some things she had been avoiding.
And after those 10 years, Anjuli returned to that same book, the one she put on a shelf to focus on her own soul searching and discovery. It was nearly finished, but now she had the last 10 years of learning and becoming who she wanted to become to weave into the waves. That book is out in the world now and it’s called “Stay”.
What it Means to Stay
The title of Anjuli’s book is rich with meaning for her, both now in 2020 and from the earliest days of writing. To Anjuli, “staying” can be really easy, but it can also be very hard.
“We are professionals at running away, of strategizing, of not dealing with our internal world. Staying, I like to look at it as a gentle invitation,” she explained.
For women, it starts by paying attention to what’s happening inside of you and staying with those feelings and emotions. “We’re really good at strategizing away from feeling some way, because that way is painful,” Anjuli explained, “But what’s really hard for most of us to do is to feel our feelings.”
Anjuli encourages women to name how you’re feeling and then stay with that feeling without trying to fix it. One of the feelings she sees women face is resistance, and actually, she sees resistance as a gift.
For example, you might be scrolling Instagram and see a photo of a woman that triggers jealousy. Your response might be to hurry past the image and get rid of that jealousy feeling as quickly as possible. But Anjuli encourages women to pause and stay with that feeling of jealousy, asking yourself, “What am I jealous about?”
Following that feeling may lead you to a deep belief. Maybe that jealousy is rooted in your belief that you’re only worthy if you’re producing something. Or I’m only loved if everyone is pleased with me. Staying is really recognizing where you’re resisting being.
Find Peace in Vulnerability
This year, as we’re reevaluating our lives and our careers and what success means to us, it can be hard to find peace with yourself in turmoil and uncertainty. I asked Anjuli how she finds peace and acceptance for herself when things are challengings.
“It’s this idea, at least for me, of letting people be a part of my middle,” she began. Anjuli says she is really good about sharing her ideas and dreams and all of the big things she wants to do. And she feels she’s really good at talking to people about the otherside, when those ideas and dreams are realized. “But there’s that middle place that makes our armpits sweat and our voice shake. It’s vulnerability.”
Transparency and vulnerability are different. Anjuli knows she can be transparent about what she wants to achieve, but vulnerability is what can help you find peace with yourself. “For me, it’s letting people into the middle and into the process,” she explained. And through that vulnerability, “Allow people who are close to you, let them love you.”
“There’s so much power in that… In saying my worth is not bound to what I produce. My worth is bound to who I belong to.”
Teaching Children to Feel
Anjuli teaches women to stay with how they are feeling and accept those emotions as opportunities to learn about yourself. But can that practice be shared with children? I asked Anjuli how she teaches her children to be okay with their emotions because I remember that my generation was always told to be happy, and nothing else. That feeling angry or sad or anything other than happy wasn’t good.
“As we ourselves learn to stay with our anger, jealousy, and resentment, we are modeling that with our kids,” Anjuli explained. “As we let ourselves feel the depth of what we actually do feel, we let our children see that. But if we do not stay with our pain or our guilt, our children will also see that and pick it up like it’s their responsibility.”
Anjuli continued to explain that your children may see it as their task to keep you happy, to not disappoint you. “And as we have peace staying with ourselves, then we have the capacity to stay with our children in their anger,” she explained.
Being able to name those feelings and emotions for yourself will give you what you need to name them for your children, your spouse, or your partner, too. You won’t need to fear their emotions because you’ve stayed with them to know how they feel.
More from this Episode
Anjuli encourages women to stay awake to love. What does that mean? What does it look like in practice? There’s so much goodness in this conversation, especially in a year where we’re facing emotions and feelings we’ve never encountered before. Press play on the episode above or find it on your favorite podcast app to hear more from my friend Anjuli Paschall. And be sure to pick up her book for more lessons and teachings on how to “stay”.
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Photo Credit: Jacob Bell